Oh day 5. How wonderful you were. If there is any day I wish I could live again and again, this would be it.
We started the day at a restaurant called Datz. We met Valerie, Julia and their crew there.
They had the foresight to order the monkey bread to be shared at the table. It was a very good choice.
We got an order of chocolate chip pancakes for most of the kids (minus Spencer) to share. See those bad boys by Elliott? And see Josh (Valerie's husband) in the background? He does exist.
I got the pork belly. It came on top of sauteed spinach and fried potatoes with apples and onions and there was an over easy egg on top. It was delicious, but I was disappointed by it. It just wasn't what I thought it was going to be. Does that ever happen to you? You expect something based on the description and even though all the components are there it's just not what you pictured.
After breakfast we headed to treasure island beach. We met up with Michael's family there.
It was lovely and special to just hang out with these ladies and talk and laugh. We all have the same sense of humor and were totally comfortable to be ourselves.
Look! I got a picture of baby Veronica with Caroline.
Picture me sitting to the right. That's how we stayed for the whole time. Well, except for when a hurricane came by and dumped heavy rain on us for 5 minutes and everybody except us went running for cover. We did stand up and move away from the waves, but we waited it out on the beach. I mean, we were already in clothing made to get wet. What's the big deal?
Baby Veronica again. I mean, how adorable is that girl?
Elliott and Oliver, the birthday twins. I hope Oliver is OK with my boys marrying his sisters.
Valerie and Julia had to leave before we did because they still had to drive back to Savannah. It was sad to see them go, but I felt so lucky to have seen them twice and I know we'll be together again.
Spencer had just fallen and busted open his lip (on the inside) and bled all over the beach. And I, being insane, made him pose for a picture.
Goggles made it better.
We took this picture right before we left.
Look at how I edited it to make it the perfect beach picture! No people in the water, nothing mucking up the sand. The only thing I couldn't fix was Elliott's goofy face.
After we left the beach we drove back to Nathan's house so I could cash in on my Christmas present. For Christmas Nathan gave me a piece of paper saying he would take me to Bern's Steakhouse when we visited Tampa.
Let me share the Wikipedia information about Bern's. They can explain it better than I can.
Bern's Steak House is a steak restaurant in the SoHo district of Tampa, Florida, founded in 1956. It is currently owned and operated by David Laxer, son of original owner Bern Laxer.
In 1996, Wine Spectator rated Bern's in a tie for the best steak house in the United States. Bern's has been a recipient of Wine Spectator's Grand Award since 1981. In 2009 Rachael Ray rated Bern's as the best restaurant in America, having beat out over a dozen top-rated steakhouses across the U.S. In 2010 industry magazine Nation's Restaurant News deemed Bern's a "Top 50 All-American icon."
George W. Bush ate at Bern's twice during his presidency.
Bern's Steak House is famous for not only its food, much of which is organic and grown especially for Bern's, but also for its massive wine list. Bern's has the largest wine list of any restaurant in the world. In its cellars can be found depression-era French red wine, pre-war Sauternes, and Madeira from the 17th century. Diners can take a tour of the wine cellar as well as the kitchen at Bern's after their meal. Bern's boasts the largest private wine collection in the world, and due to this status has quite a following of wine aficionados. Bern's is one of three locations that annually host "Winefest", the second largest private fundraiser for charity in the Tampa Bay area, the first being "Taste of Tampa".
The establishment also boasts a private dessert room, the Harry Waugh Dessert Room.
Another notable feature of Bern's Steak House is that there is only one single window in the entire establishment, although it is not viewable by customers.
We took an Uber to the restaurant and got there at about 5:45. Nathan had not made a reservation because we weren't positive what night we were going to go, but he wanted to eat in the bar area anyway which is possible without a reservation. It's pretty much impossible to get into one of the dining rooms without a reservation.
I got these pictures from the internet.
The inside of one of the dining rooms.
This is the bar.
See that settee there? That's where we sat and had a cocktail.
A better picture of the bar. The bar has full dinner service, the same as any of the dining rooms.
There's my cocktail. I had a daiquiri. It was delightful.
We got seated at the bar about 30 minutes after we arrived and ordered another cocktail. Then we decided to take those cocktails with us on our tour of the kitchens and wine cellar.
Meat carving and trimming station
Fried onion string station
Ladies making salads
They grow their own sprouts for their salads in the restaurant. They said it takes about two weeks to go from the bottom tray to the top tray.
After the kitchen tour we changed tour guides and moved into the wine cellar. I will let the fine people at Bern's explain their wine cellar.
Bern's founder, Bern Laxer, traveled the globe extensively exploring, researching and tasting wines that he could bring back and introduce to his guests back home. In time, the cellar grew to be one of the most respected and largest collections in the world. Today, our cellar contains more than 6,800 different selections with more than half a million bottles. Bern's Wine Cellar is the perennial recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award, the magazine's highest honor bestowed upon restaurants that display an uncompromising and passionate commitment to quality. According to Wine Spectator, "these lists show serious depth of mature vintages, outstanding breadth in their vertical offerings, excellent harmony with the menu, superior organization and presentation, and 1,250 or more selections."
Whether you are an oenophile or a novice, Bern's Wine Cellar will truly impress you -- with more than 6,800 unique wine labels, 5,500 red wines, 1,000 white wines and more than 200 sparkling wines. In addition, we feature about 300 Madeiras, Ports and Sherries by the glass, as well as 200 table wines served by the glass with vintages to 1973.
Because of the breadth of our wine collection, we update our wine list four times a year and currently we are unable to offer our list online.
Some of those 200 wines that are available by the glass.
I took this picture through a chain link fence.
In the wine cellar with our second cocktails. I had no idea how nice this place was and because of my ignorance I was wearing a $12 dress from Target.
Back at the bar, after the tour, we ordered a few glasses of wine. Then we took this picture to text to Nick to make him jealous.
Then we got down to the business of eating.
For an appetizer we got Bern's Original Steak Tartare: "raw, hand-chopped sirloin steak served with classic garnishment and our own seasonings".
It was so delicious. One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. I'm still thinking about it. I think I had a dream about it.
With glasses from the first bottle we ordered.
French onion soup was the first course.
House salad was the second course. I got mine with Macadamia Nut Vanilla Bean dressing. It was sweet and unusual, but delicious. We laughed about the canned black olives this fancy, fine dining place has on their salads.
Our main course
We were sitting next to some guys who were in Tampa for business. Nathan told me later that in the time they were sitting there and we were sitting by them they DRANK between $1200 and $1400 of wine. DRANK! That's not counting what they ate. And we left before they did! Who knows how much longer they sat there drinking. Bern's apparently closes for the night when the last guest leaves. So if somebody is ordering a bottle of wine at 4:00 am, Bern's is still open. We spent a fair amount of time chatting with those guys and at one point they asked if we would like a glass of wine from the bottle they were drinking. Nathan very enthusiastically said that we did and then he whispered to me that it was a bottle from 1912. And I have to say it was probably the best glass of wine I've ever had. It was worth every penny of the probably $500 they spent on it.
After we were done with dinner we moved upstairs to the dessert restaurant. Each table is enclosed in their own little hut made out of old wine barrels.
This picture is from google.
Whoever took it seems to have been sitting where we sat too.
We each got the Cappuccino Bern's Steak House- "This long-time specialty features a marriage of our very-finely-ground, freshly-roasted coffee marinated in Kahlúa and flavored liqueurs for an average of ten weeks. Your cappuccino is topped with a float of vanilla cream and finely-ground coffee." It was the best
boozy cappuccino I've ever had. Usually they are harsh and bitter, but this was smooth and just the right amount of sweet and creamy.
For dessert Nathan got a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream and I got the Cappuccion Creme- "Our signature version of the classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu. Our house-made liqueur, Cappuccino Bern's and cold brewed espresso flavor handmade ladyfingers, layered with mascarpone mousse and Valrhona chocolate coffee creme."
It was not at all what I expected, but unlike breakfast at Datz's that morning, I was very pleased with how awesome it was. I didn't eat the sugar art, but every other bite was inhaled.
Nathan wanted to order a port for me and our waitress suggested the flight of ports. Nathan glanced at the price and after he picked his jaw up off the table and tucked his eyeballs back in the socket, he said, "what the hell. It's only money." He didn't really say that, but he did say I should have it, I should enjoy it and that I owed him.
Ten, twenty, thirty and forty year old port. Delectable.
The booths were wallpapered with old recipes from very old cookbooks.
And just like that, five hours after we arrived, it was time to take an Uber home. Except the Uber driver went to the wrong place and we were left in the parking lot as it started to rain, tipsy and full and me wearing a see-throughish $12 black dress from Target.